"The trip of a lifetime"
Well... Where do I begin?
I suppose from the beginning, huh?
It all started in San Antonio, TX where I currently reside. I had been invited to Portland, Oregon for my 3rd TV segment for Jason's Imagination and was considering how and which way to travel. Do I drive, or do I fly? With my explorer and adventurous side lighting up like a wild fire, I couldn't help but think a road trip was overdue.
I was packed up, truck loaded, gassed up and I was now on the road heading Northwest to Portland.
My first stop: New Mexico. Now I had lived in NM for about 2 years back in 2012 and knew most of the state from working on cell phone towers, so for me there wasn't much to explore that I hadn't seen before, but I had forgotten NM had some really nice sunsets.
Now mind you I had a day and 7 hours to get to Portland for the segment on the 31st and thought I had planned everything just right, but just as I was getting into ABQ I was now 7 hours in and realizing I might have under planned the trip just a bit, so I stopped, took in one more sun set then made a good solid night of driving straight though to Salt Lake City, Utah.
As I woke that morning from a 20 hour drive I was running on adrenaline, excitement and an hour or so of sleep, but I needed to hightail it to Oregon as fast I could. 11.5 hours left of the first leg and I was running on empty, thinking to myself "I should have flown"... but then... Oregon.
Oregon was absolutely worth the drive. Worth the 30+ hours. Worth the exhaustion. Just plain worth it.
After a few more hours of naturally manicured rolling hills of Eastern Oregon I had finally made it to Portland.
Now settled into the hotel I was ready for some sleep.
The following day was the day of the interview with Afternoon Live w/ host Tra'Renee, which was amazing! Tra' was very welcoming, as was the crew. I chatted with some of the other guest, then made my way to the studio. I was mic'd up and ready to go.
Being my 3rd segment I felt I really handled this one well, but I can't take all the credit, I was given some much needed encouragement from a new friend I had made from my time on the set of We Are Austin; Trevor Scott. Trevor & Taylor are the hosts of a local show in Austin, which was my very first TV appearance.
Before the segment at 2:15pm I decided to go hiking that morning in Forest Park to see Witches Castle... did not disappoint. I hiked down the path that had a small creek running beside it where I met a fellow photographer named Dave photographing the creek. He was an older gentleman, retired and very kind. He too was hiking to see Witches Castle, so together we walked towards our destination catching up like we were old friends.
That evening I wanted to find a local favorite restaurant, and in my search I found the Tin Shed. I was greeted by a lovely waitress who sat me at my table, offered me a menu and took my drink order. I simply asked what was the local fav in eats and drinks here as I was new to Portland. She recommended what was called the Lazarus quesadilla and a local IPA. Now let me tell you about this quesadilla, this thing was AMAZING. Filled with black beans, jalapenos, sweet potatoes, sharp cheddar and jam... yes I said that right, JAM! It was a raspberry or black berry jam and made the whole dish!
During my dinning experience she welcomed me to Portland, asked why I was visiting, I told her about my book and the segment with Afternoon Live. She asked about the food and of course I had nothing but fantastic things to say.
My evening was nice, quiet and in some ways mindful with a sense of peace. Portland was stealing my heart like a thief in the night.
I wasn't quite ready to head home just yet so I managed some time to stay one more night, and the next day I made my way to one of the local attractions; Pittock Mansion. This home was massive, beautiful and once owned by the Pittock Family. Built in 1909 by London-born Oregonian publisher Henry Pittock, and his wife, Geogiana. The Pittocks were one of Portland's 1st AND most influential families, arriving sometime in the 1850's by wagon train!
This 46 room estate was built by Tenino Sandstone on 46 acres in the West Hills offering panoramic views of downtown Portland. Now owned by the city's Bureau of Parks and Recreation completion wasn't until 1914 and averaging 16,000 SQFT. Designed by architect Edward T. Foulkes, the mansion featured such luxuries as central vacuum system, intercoms, indirect lighting, and a walk-in refrigerator.
My next stop; Cannon Beach.
I figured I had been coast to coast ( San Diego, CA for the West coast and Myrtle Beach, SC for the east coast), it was time to add the PNW coast to that list so I packed up and drove an hour or so to Cannon Beach. Now being the end of January the water was definitely on the "too cold to swim" scale but that didn't stop me from at least walking to the coast's edge. Its waters were calm and very scenic, folks were walking with their kids, dogs or for their afternoon run. I took my photos and then some lunch at a little place called the Driftwood. I ordered, again, another local favorite and drink, this time it was a Salmon salad with something called a Spanish Coffee. The Salmon was perfect, and the drink... well... different. Basically an Irish Coffee... was good, just different. From there I had to have desert, and devoured a brownie with vanilla ice cream.
While eating my desert a friend of mine, Shane, had recommended that I should continue my adventure South into Northern California to see the Redwoods, which at that point made total sense.
In PNW fashion the rain began to build up and forced most of us either inside, or in my case, on the road.
I now made my way South on the 101 following the Oregon coast down into Crescent City, California, a 400 mile trek, and by 10pm I was checked into a small, lovely hotel, the Anchor Beach Inn. The view from my room would live up to exactly what the Inn-keeper described.
With a cup of coffee I packed up and headed out the door to experience the ancient forest; the Redwoods of California.
The girl at the front desk that morning gave me a few options, but said that I should check out one of her favorite spots called Sprout Grove.
Sprout Grove is full of trees and winding roads made for a road trip and absolutely did not disappoint, but what made this trip so epic was by the time I reach Sprout Grove I had noticed moving trucks, cars, gear, tents... I wasn't sure what was going on so I decided to continue up the road where I was greeted by an officer who kindly told me I could turn around at this spot - pointing in a direction I really could't tell where. Well that ended up dead-ending into a large tent full of people. One asked what I was trying to do, of course I said "back out". With the help of this man and a few others they guided me back into a spot where I waited for a large van to come in. They directed me out and as I was leaving asked what was going on. Well to my surprise they were FILMING A MOVIE!!! Luckily for me they were in production set up and had not started filming anything just yet, but embarrassing enough as it was.
I don't know what movie was being filmed, but every one who had helped me out were kind about the whole thing. So to those, Thank You!
The redwood trees were massive, majestic and mesmerizing. The green from the moss was something otherworldly, standing next to them made you feel small and insignificant. The stories they could tell of the tens of thousand, if not millions of years they have seen.
One could almost feel connected to everything out there. I know I did.
Lunch time was now creeping in and I needed to stop. There I found myself in a small town called Trinidad, California.
Trinidad would be one of the most beautiful stops on this adventure. The sun was out, the weather was perfect, the people friendly and the beaches just awe-inspiring.
Just before Trinidad I made a quick stop on the 101 to photograph a part of the coast that nearly took my breath away.
Finally in Trinidad I found another local favorite called the Lighthouse. This place was small with a very friendly staff. I made conversation with the girl who took my order, and after hearing some of the local favs I chose a burger made with blue cheese and a jalapeno jam... again with the JAM, but folks you have no idea how AMAZING this burger was, and to add to the awesomeness of this food was a homemade cream soda.
During our conversation we talked about why I was visiting, where I had been traveling and such and from there she told me about a place just off the 101 into Pepperwood which lead to The Avenue of the Giants where some of the larger Redwood tree are.
San Francisco was the next stop, and just about where I began to feel the strain of the road. I found a motel, somehow parked my big 4X4 Dodge into the parking spot, ordered some sushi and just called it a night.
Morning came and I just wasn't feeling the city, or maybe I just wasn't feeling the adventurous side of me as much as I had on the beginning of this journey. Plus parking was near to impossible for me with the truck and honestly it was just another big city to me. I mean I saw the houses like I use to see on the show Full House growing up, I saw the Golden Gate Bridge (at night), a few parks, but nothing that just stopped me enough to go explore. Maybe some other time San Fran.
I was back on the road and had made plans to be in Mesa, Arizona that evening to see an old friend and her son whom I had known since 2009.
I was in Bakersfield when another friend of mine in San Diego contacted me to come swing by and have dinner. Needing to get off the road and maybe some sleep I punched in SD on the GPS.
L.A. was super busy. Traffic lived up to its reputation. Though I'm sure L.A. has its own charm I was just ready to eat and rest for the night.
I met up with Joseph and had dinner at a nice restaurant, Saska's, for steak. I have to say SD you did well for a steak not cooked in Texas, lol!
The evening was spent catching up on the road trip, the book and life. I met his roommate Carl after dinner. Nice guy. Read my palm. We all talked politics, social topics, general conversation. I had a nice time.
By the time I made it to the hotel I was beat.
Earlier that evening Joseph and I made plans to sight see a few things before I left SD.
That morning we had breakfast and made our way to Cabrillo National Monument which gave a breath-taking view of the SD bay and the Pacific ocean.
Balboa park was the final stop where we walked through the international houses and incidentally walked into the area where they keep the Spreckels Outdoor Organ. Luckily for us it was just at the right moment for the 2pm concert.
Now the Spreckels Organ was donated to the city of San Diego in 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition. The unique organ contains more then 5,000 pipes ranging in length from the size of a pencil to 32 ft and is the largest outdoor organ in the world.
The last exhibit was the science museum where I ended up showing my child-like spirit and had to press all the buttons I possibly could, and then finished with a film about aircraft carriers.
San Diego was a good way to end the California leg of the trip.
Mesa was another 5 hours east, and by this time I was ready to be home, but I couldn't leave without seeing one of my favorite kiddos, Ethan.
I have known Ethan and his mom Elisha for nigh-on 8 years or so. They have been like family to me with Ethan being the closet thing I ever had to a son.
We all had dinner, laughed, told stories and played with the dogs. I definitely missed seeing them.
Back at the hotel I was exhausted. You never realize how overwhelming an unplanned, unintentional road trip can be.
Morning could not come slow enough. I was not ready for the 982 miles back to San Antonio, Texas, but I lugged my sore, worn out body out of bed, packed up and made it back on the road.
This trip was everything I needed and everything I didn't know I needed. You find new things about yourself. You get to measure yourself, wash away everything that has hurt you, let your spirit reset and discover new and exciting places.
2017 was a roller-coaster of all kinds of sorts. I published a book, I'd fallen in love and lost that love, I reconnected with people I thought I had lost, hired a publicist, I left a good job to pursue a dream, the list could go on.
I had traveled 4,675 miles in 8 days on a road trip of a lifetime.
Life is good as it can be hard, but what matters most is how you thrive through all of it, how you persevere through it amongst the crashing waves, and even the calm.